Teaching Through a Pandemic: Students Recognize Two Faculty Members for Their Efforts

Students in the MBA and PhD programs honored Rebecca Lester and Anne Beyer, respectively, for their outstanding teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 13, 2021

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Rebecca Lester teaching in the classroom at Stanford GSB. Credit: Elena Zhukova

In her accounting classes, Rebecca Lester “stood out by connecting course content to important current events.” | Elena Zhukova

Each year, Stanford Graduate School of Business instructors strive to deliver impactful learning experiences to students. This past year was unique; instructors adapted their materials and lectures, effectively pivoting to a virtual teaching environment due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students from the MBA and PhD programs chose to recognize Rebecca Lester and Anne Beyer, respectively, for going above and beyond their core responsibilities as educators, both in and outside of the virtual classroom. The MSx Class of 2021 had a later program start date due to the pandemic, and as a result, the MSx Teaching Excellence Award recipient will be chosen in fall 2021.

“Excellence in scholarship and teaching are at the heart of our GSB mission,” said Jonathan Levin, the Philip H. Knight Professor and dean of Stanford GSB. “Becky and Anne are inspiring teachers who found creative and innovative ways to engage their students in a virtual environment over the past year. I deeply appreciate their perseverance, patience, optimism, and their commitment to teach and shape these future leaders and scholars.”

Rebecca Lester: MBA Distinguished Teaching Award

At a virtual ceremony on May 25, Rebecca Lester, associate professor of accounting, was presented with the MBA Distinguished Teaching Award for her teaching contributions to students in the Stanford MBA Program.

Austin Ward, MBA ’21, commended Lester’s ability to tie classroom content to real world events and issues.

“Beyond creative approaches to teaching, this professor stood out by connecting course content to important current events,” he said. “When learning the rules for tax expenses, we were brought into a timely debate over how much corporations like Amazon truly pay in corporate taxes. Such examples highlight this professor’s outstanding capacity to bring course content to life.”

Mariana Martins, MBA ’21, shared another student’s testimonial about how Lester navigated the pivot to online learning.

“Professor Lester was an incredible accounting teacher,” the student wrote. “It was difficult but she was dynamic and spent so much time figuring out how to optimize class on Zoom and keep us engaged, from breakout rooms and polling to even role-plays where people brought costumes to class.”

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Becky and Anne are inspiring teachers who found creative and innovative ways to engage their students in a virtual environment over the past year.
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Jonathan Levin

In accepting the award, Lester said, “Thank you so much for this incredible honor. I feel it’s such a prestigious honor among a group of fantastic and phenomenal colleagues.” Lester went on to describe how Stanford GSB provides an environment that creates opportunities for teaching and research synergies, through bringing research inside the classroom, partnering on research outside the classroom, and leading global seminars.

This year, there were 123 nominations for 46 professors, and the selection committee noted five finalists:

The student members of the Award Selection Committee included Jagriti Agrawal, MBA ’22; Kevin Fauzie, MBA ’22; Austin Ward, MBA ’21; and Mariana Martins, MBA ’21.

Lester is an empirical accounting researcher studying the role of corporate reporting and tax policies on companies’ investment and employment decisions. In particular, she examines the role of reporting incentives, disclosure regimes, and information frictions in facilitating or altering the effectiveness of cross-border, federal, and local tax incentives.

Anne Beyer: PhD Faculty Distinguished Service Award

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Anne Beyer. Credit: Nancy Rothstein

Anne Beyer | Nancy Rothstein

At an in-person, masked ceremony at the Knight Management Center on May 27, Anne Beyer, associate professor of accounting, received the PhD Faculty Distinguished Service Award.

Sara Malik, PhD ’21, lauded Beyer’s instruction and said the accounting courses, which Beyer helped curate in her role as PhD liaison, prepared her to be a better consumer and producer of research.

“As a teacher, Anne sets high standards for students in the classroom and, more importantly, helps them achieve more than they thought possible,” she said.

Stefan Huber, PhD ’21, shared how Beyer helped him grow as a scholar and researcher, and described a scene familiar to students who sought feedback from Beyer often.

“If you go into Anne’s office, you see her whiteboard with scribbles all over it,” he said. “The things on the whiteboard are a collection of topics students have brought to her, not about her own research.”

Beyer, in acknowledging the award from her students, said she truly enjoys working with doctoral students and appreciates the opportunity to learn about different research areas in depth. She said she finds it rewarding to observe their research evolutions and how their insights sharpen over time.

Beyer teaches financial accounting with a focus on corporate disclosure, capital market prices, and corporate governance. She has examined the properties of analyst and management earnings forecasts as well as investors’ reactions to different kinds of corporate disclosures.

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